Awarded the 2013 Melissa Lanitis Gregory Poetry Prize from Bona Fide Books, Field Study is a window into Travis Mossotti’s time in the field over the last decade, working with his wife (a carnivore biologist) on endangered species recovery efforts all across North America—from processing kill sites with the Yellowstone Wolf Project to tracking red wolves on the eastern edge of the Outer Banks. The book engages the tradition of American naturalist writers and offers a rare in situ examination of the relationship between humans and the environments humans occupy, manipulate, destroy, and share, to greater or lesser extents.
Wolves need as many voices as they can get, and Travis Mossotti's Field Study is certainly a powerful and welcome addition.
—Douglas Smith, Project Leader for the Yellowstone Wolf Project
In Field Study, Mossotti sponges wolf spoor from the rut of a sandy road and gives it to us, challenging us to go beyond merely appreciating nature—“I’ve learned that words like awe / are only part of it,” he says. Mossotti’s poems remind us that we need to collectively respond to the principle that the howl of the wolf must not be muted from the American landscape.
—William Waddell, Red Wolf Species Survival Plan Coordinator
Winner of the 2018 Miller Williams Poetry Prize
@ University of Arkansas Press
Kind words from Billy Collins:
Producing poems that are clear and mysterious, funny and serious, Travis Mossotti is one of a thriving group of American poets writing these days whose work exposes the mendacity of those who cite "difficulty" as an excuse for not reading poetry.
Kind words from David Kirby:
I’ve been this poet’s fan since I came across About the Dead, his 2011 book that was chosen by Garrison Keillor as the May Swenson Poetry Award winner that year. Several books later, Mossotti has settled into his maturity as a poet, bringing to his work an awareness that only comes with a sense of history both great and small, from the lessons of Machiavelli to the ones we learn when someone our age dies. Of the many fine poems here, a favorite is “Joint with Christine at a Tool Concert,” in which the poet treats a prison-bound meth head with the love and insight we all deserve.
Kind words from Devin Johnston:
With clear-eyed intelligence, Narcissus Americana surveys the unfolding American disaster: ecological damage “too late for healing,” desperate hypocrisies, and overextended credit of the powerful and powerless alike. From the sharp edge of middle age, poetry offers cold comfort, each new subject—like an unused wine fridge—“One more absurd, impossible thing / I have somehow been charged with getting rid of.” Yet the resulting poems never lose shape or equanimity, their lines balanced and tuned. And in the ironic space between what we want and what we get, Mossotti discovers resources we can use right now: dark laughter and resolute tenderness.
Kind words from Justin Phillip Reed:
Travis Mossotti’s Narcissus Americana makes legible and lyrical the flown-over eros of the heartland son: who inherits the dreams of uncharted newness, who destines a newness of himself, who turns to face a hardened plain not unlike Lauren Berlant’s "cruel optimism." The poet often takes the stage with offerings of futile comedy and figuration as relief, only to be booed away by the speaker who, hungover after Hollywood and delusions less bright, can no longer stomach any more of the American spirit. The narcissism resonates: how easy it has been to always aspire, to desire "to be a Genesis" or an escape artist, to "dream that you were an ode or epic/ surviving the millennia unscathed," to want a bankruptcy of damns to give. And yet, spectacularly, Mossotti grinds us only to ground us in this upset: there is "no way/ to upstage what we have."
Kind words from Stefene Russell:
In these poems—incantatory, tender, macho, heartbroken, funny, gorgeous, paved, wild—Travis Mossotti gives us the true American Field Guide to America. He writes of cars, lawns, crows, urban mulberries, industrial disasters, corn, Craigslist, meth, and church (e.g. “Jesus affiliates”—could there be anything more American?), but the poems also move our gaze up from the reflecting pool. They ask us to ponder the religion of animals, and the stars named for animals; the trueness of biomes; the phoniness of borders; the possibility of swallowing the cosmos by driving through the Valley of the Shadow of Death at hyper speed. And like the flower of the title that bursts up in late winter, reminding us that the world’s not ending (at least not this year), he offers us something that feels a lot like hope.